July 18, 2007
The Christian charity Toybox is working hard in Latin America to bring hope to street children in Bolivia and Guatemala.
Toybox has launched a new project called Guardian Angels to bring hope to street children in Oruro, Bolivia, where there is currently no one working to help these children.
The Christian charity is committed to bringing hope to some of the world’s most disadvantaged children and building a world where there are no more street children. It works principally in Latin America where the needs are great and the challenge is huge.
"There is no protection or help for children on the streets in Oruro," says Claudia from Toy Box’s partner Red Viva team in Cochabamba. Red Viva is the Latin American branch of the Oxford-based Viva Network, a Christian charity committed to providing care for vulnerable and neglected children.
It’s a hard life for street children in Bolivia. They lack adequate shelter, are exposed to drugs, and face hunger and ill-health daily. Most have been abused, physically, sexually or both.
"The local government and people have asked Toybox and Red Viva to be part of a new city wide work with street children,” says Claudia.
“This is a great plan and there is an opportunity to make a difference immediately. The people there are praying and waiting to see if Toybox will help."
Silvia, leader of El Castillo, Toybox’s partner in Guatemala, says, "We are more shocked and afraid for the children than ever. There is an urgent need to protect them as the level of danger they face is increasing every day."
Toybox estimates that it will cost around £116 towards each child saved from the streets through Guardian Angels projects in Oruro and Guatemala this year.
Andy Stockbridge, Toybox Chief Executive, has just returned from visiting the team in Oruro. He comments, "Oruro is a poor city with significant need. But the local people together, church, projects, local authorities have a real heart and a genuine plan to work with children who find themselves on the street or working on the street."
Uganda: Beggars, Street Children a Burden in the City
The Monitor (Kampala)
19 July 2007
Posted to the web 18 July 2007
Over the years the number of beggars and street children on Kampala streets has grown tremendously.
Most of these unprivileged people come from upcountry in hope of better life in the city but end up on the streets.
The beggars and street children are common on Kampala Road, the Constitution Square, the traffic lights in Wandegeya and Shoprite Super and near Sheraton Hotel.
They are mainly children aged 3-18, disabled and surprisingly able bodied adults. There are physically handicapped beggars and those afflicted by leprosy.
Others are mothers who strategically place their children to beg as they monitor from a far. The other group is of young boys and girls aged 10-15. These are lone rangers commonly referred to as street children and to compliment begging, they engage in petty theft.
However, it’s rare to find able bodied males on the streets begging. Why do these people come to the streets?
Most of the beggars come to town to look for a better life or simply for curiosity and quest for adventure.
They believe Kampala is paradise on earth where everything comes easy and free. However, when these people reach the city, they find the opposite of what they expected and with their expectations dashed, they end up on the streets.
The disabled feel sympathetic persons can take pity on them and dole a little money their way. Many of the street children are either orphans or have run away from home mainly because they are mistreated by step mothers. Some girls run away from home because of unwanted pregnancies.
This lifestyle, if one may call it so, has adverse effects. The children are deprived of their rights and live a traumatised life and this may affect them later in life.
They are also exposed to diseases like scabies and Aids, especially among the adolescents. The girls are even raped and give birth to children who surely will also be street children, thereby perpetuating the cycle of street life.
The disabled beggars have also borne the brunt of recent demonstrations in the city. They have been trampled upon by the agitators and tear gassed as police disperses demos.
Because of the harsh life, the children resort to drugs such as marijuana, mairungi and inhale fuel fumes as a coping mechanism to extinguish hunger.
The beggars are also susceptible to accidents. At the Wandegeya traffic lights, many compete with vehicles as they scramble for handouts from motorists. So what must be done to check this phenomenon? The authorities should resettle these people where they can be made productive through engaging in income generating activities.
These people can do something for themselves; disability is not inability. The government should increase funding to Naguru Remand Home where juvenile delinquency cases can be handled better and the street youth rehabilitated.
There is need to enforce laws that would make streets begging illegal although I am aware there will be challenges to implementing this law.
With the run up to Chogm, the City Council has a big task to ensure Kampala reflects a good image of the country.
Photo: Hugh Macleod/IRIN
|The Social Affairs Ministry has pledged US$200,000 to the Home of Hope, but Lebanon’s lengthy political crisis has crippled the government and hugely delayed the delivery of much-needed cash|
Today, Abdullah lives with around 20 other workers in a ramshackle encampment on a patch of wasteland in Lailaki, a poor suburb of south Beirut.
By night, the boy picks through the city’s rubbish, hoping to find objects of value.
By day, instead of going to school, Abdullah sorts through his discoveries with his “boss”, an aggressive middle-aged woman who claims to own the camp and who, Abdullah says, beats the children if they do not make her enough money.
A few hours sleep in a filthy, cramped tent with no heat or running water and a bowl of rice is his reward.
“My family sent me here to work and now I haven’t seen them for so long,” said Abdullah, his hands rough from manual labour.
Photo: Hamza Haj Hassan/IRIN
"I do hope for a better life. But I’m stuck here. Even if I could leave I would be lost."
It is illegal for children under the age of 14 to work in Lebanon, as it is for unsupervised children to beg or sell on the streets. Yet the Ministry of Social Affairs estimates that there are around 100,000 under-14s doing manual labour in the country, while some 20,000 Lebanese children live in alternative care because their families are too poor to support them.
Street children, most of whom are from neighbouring Arab countries and so cannot avail of public services, number from 3-5,000, according to estimates by local activists.
“I do hope for a better life,” said Abdullah, who was dirty and appeared malnourished and in need of medical attention. “But I’m stuck here. Even if I could leave I would be lost.”
Nichole Ireland, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF), said: “Living in these conditions is a violation of a child’s rights. Children have a right to go to school, to be cared for and to live in safe and healthy conditions.”
“No-one out there actively searching out street kids”
Though the social affairs ministry and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) run projects to protect and rehabilitate street children or those forced into labour, Lebanon lacks a dedicated body to crack down on such abuses, meaning children must be arrested by the regular police before they can enter the social services network.
“There’s no-one out there actively searching out street kids,” John Eter, director of the Home of Hope orphanage in Kahale, on the mountains east of Beirut, told IRIN.
Photo: Hugh Macleod/IRIN
"Ziad got me selling marijuana, then cocaine and heroin. I started smoking marijuana and when I was stoned Ziad used to sell me to men for sex."
Alaa Abdel Karim al-Bouz, 21, is the oldest resident in the Home of Hope orphanage. Read his story…
“We have been suggesting this to the government for four years. Children should get the highest priority in times of crisis. But with all the troubles happening, it seems the security forces are not ready for reform.”
Lebanon is locked in an eight-month old political standoff between the government and the Hezbollah-led opposition that resigned from the cabinet, while in the north the army continues its struggle to defeat Fatah al-Islam militants holed up in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.
Eter estimated Lebanon has as many as 5,000 street children, 80 percent of them foreigners mainly from Syria, Jordan, Iraq or the Palestinian territories, who carry no identification papers and who therefore cannot attend state school and can be arrested any time.
Activists say the government has resisted calls to give official IDs to street children without papers because they fear it would encourage more parents to abandon their children in Lebanon.
Orphanage lacks funds
Eter opened the Home of Hope orphanage, run through contributions to the Lebanese Evangelical Society (LES), in 1999.
The centre has accommodation for up to 150 boys and girls of any age - usually up to 18 - who sleep in dormitories, take three meals a day, play sports and receive schooling and counseling, including check-ups by a psychologist.
“These children are brought up in homes where it is normal for them to be beaten or even raped. Some have advanced drug addiction. We have a psychologist always here, but the best therapy for kids is other kids,” said Eter.
However, the Home of Hope is facing a drastic funding crisis. Eter said that since 2004 the government had reduced its support to the centre by 80 percent, meaning the budget of around US$500,000 has shrunk to around $30,000, just enough to feed and cloth the 64 children currently resident.
Photo: Hugh Macleod/IRIN
|Since 1999, the Lebanese Evangelical Society (LES) has run an orphanage in Kahale, in the mountains east of Beirut, which has been a place of sanctuary for hundreds of abandoned street children|
Two thirds of the teaching and support staff have already been laid off, with the remainder receiving letters announcing their dismissal by the end of August, when Eter said the centre would have to close in the absence of extra funds.
“I have made many appeals for money from the British and French embassies and from the European Union and USAID [US Agency for International Development], but they are not interested because the kids are not Lebanese. There is money for political activities but not for humanitarian,” said Eter.
Minister of Social Affairs Naila Mouawad, who herself runs a foundation which helps working children in Tripoli, north Lebanon, told IRIN that the Home of Hope had been awarded $200,000 from the government this year, but that payment had been severely delayed by the ongoing political deadlock.
City News - Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Five hundred street children from Greater Jakarta are taking part in a music workshop as part of a contest that could see them win a recording contract.
Veteran musician Embi C. Noor, a jury member, said Monday about 1,300 children from 15 shelters registered for the contest.
During the first round of the contest last month, all of the children had a chance to sing and play an instrument.
Jury members selected the best 500 to move on to the next stage of the contest.
Embi said the children were selected based on musical skill, creativity, performance and uniqueness.
"Five hundreds of them moved on to the next step," he said.
The contestants are now taking part in a three-day workshop that started Monday. Fifty will be selected to attend another workshop that will last for a week and involve top musicians Dwiki Dharmawan and Franky Sahilatua.
"We will then pick the best three to do a recording with Sony," Embi said.
The event is being sponsored by Nokia, Sony BMG and Plan Indonesia, an international non-governmental organization focusing on children’s welfare.
Although there are numerous non-governmental organizations working with street children here, they continue to be a marginalized community that rarely receives attention from the government. One of the main ways for these children to earn the money necessary to survive is by working as a street musician.
While street children are often viewed with a wary eye by people who see them as little better than criminals, the children themselves are more likely to become victims of violence on the streets.
There are no official statistics on the number of street children in Greater Jakarta.
This contest will give a few of the children rare access to proper musical instruments and recording professionals. Organizers hope this will help the children get off the street and begin building a future.
Contest organizers have provided shelters with musical instruments, to give the children a chance to rehearse.
"We are trying to help these children who love music, because for them music is a perfect way to express themselves," said Plan Indonesia acting country director Pol DeGreve.
Susilo Adinegoro, the coordinator of Sanggar Akar, one of the shelters, said the contest was a good chance for the children to express themselves and develop their creativity.
"The most important thing is not the recording contract, but more about how the children learn to compete and interact," he said.
Hasan Aulia, general manager of Nokia Indonesia, said the contest might also help the country’s music industry."We also want to give an opportunity to the many talented street musicians to perform, and we hope with this contest they can be part of Indonesia’s music industry."
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